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UC’s Ryan Thomas wins national award in National French Week Contest


Williamsburg, KY.,- University of the Cumberlands (UC) is proud to announce that for the second consecutive year, UC is the home to the award winners of the National French Week Contest. Ryan Thomas (Ft. Mitchell, KY) took third place in this nation wide affair which is sponsored by the American Association of Teachers of French (AATF).

“To be honest,” admitted Thomas, “Winning this award shows the entire country just how capable UC’s Foreign Language Department is and its strength. It takes a lot of mettle to be able to teach a student so well that they are capable of standing as one of the best in the country, and accomplishing that just proves that this university is capable of paving the way for students to achieve their dreams.”

Each year, the AATF holds an essay contest to help promote the study of French language and culture. Three winners are selected from each level of education which includes elementary school, middle school, high school, and college level. Each university may submit up to five essay submissions to be judged. Dr. Laura Dennis, UC’s professor of French, assigned her class this particular essay as an extra credit assignment. She chose the best ones, Thomas’ being one of the top picks, and submitted them in to the AATF to be included in the contest.

The national committee selected the winners and once they had decided on a winner, they notified Dennis through email and she had the pleasure in passing on the good news to her student, Thomas.

“The AATF is one of the largest organizations of French Teachers in the world and the largest such organization in North America,” explained Dennis. “To have a student win anything sponsored by them is a huge honor and boost for us. The fact that we have three winners in two years makes it all the sweeter. It shows what good work we do together. Sometimes small departments are underrated, but I happen to think our size is our strength. We have a strong sense of community and high expectations in the best possible sense of the world.”

The French language is a truly global language and is the only one, besides English, that is spoken on five continents. It is a language of literature, culture, and diplomacy as well as science, technology, and design which are all reasons in which Dennis works hard to be an advocate for the French language and culture. She continues to do a magnificent job in instilling this knowledge into the minds of her students and allowing them to bloom and reach out to others through their studies.

“I really love my job,” said Dennis. “I love the students at UC too. To see them shine like this is an amazing gift. I also know that Ryan is planning an overseas experience in Japan and honors like this show he has the right open-minded attitude to succeed anywhere he chooses to go. I am very proud of Ryan.”

Thomas is humbled to have been chosen and feels he owes so much to the University of the Cumberlands. “It feels amazing,” said Thomas. “To be considered one of three best of anything is an amazing accomplishment. If I can go that far in something like this, who knows how far I can go in the world? I came to UC about four years ago as a quiet and uncertain individual who believed that he could only go so far in life. Four years later, that individual has made dozens of friends, both American and International, has gotten involved in many UC campus activities, and has finally decided what he wants to do in life. I don’t think I would have made it as far as I did without the friends I’ve made and the experiences I’ve had in this school, and I would seriously like to thank the University of the Cumberlands for accepting a student like myself into your university.”

Located in Williamsburg, Ky., University of the Cumberlands is an institution of regional distinction, which currently offers four undergraduate degrees in more than 40 major fields of study; 10 pre-professional programs; ten graduate degrees distributed over eight areas, including two doctorates and seven master’s degrees; certifications in education; and online programs. For more information visit